Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Good Ingredients = Great Products

Marianne bakes amazing chocolate chip cookies. She has the whole process down to a science. A while back, we needed to make a batch of cookies and she didn't have time, so she asked me to make them. She gave me her recipe and left me on my own.

They turned out ok. Not great. Edible.

She understands better than I do the perfect ratios in the ingredients. She has a deeper and more accurate experience with the recipe because she has made the cookies so many more times than I do.

Simply put, the better you understand and utilize the ingredients, the better your final product will be.


Do you understand the proper ingredients to bake a spiritually healthy life? Paul gave us a recipe in Philippians 4:8.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

This verse follows Paul's instructions to not be anxious or fearful about anything. His main point is that we need to fill our minds with God's ingredients instead of the world's ingredients.

Take a moment and think about how you fill your mind.

  • What radio shows or podcasts do you listen to?
  • What do you watch on TV or Netflix?
  • Which movies do you go to?
  • What thoughts fill your imagination?
  • What music is on your playlist?
  • With whom do you have the longest conversations?
  • Whose advice do you most often follow?
  • Which books shape your decisions?
  • What events do you replay in your mind?
  • What conversations do you dwell on?

Now apply Philippians 4:8 to all these inputs. The ingredients with which you fill your mind will determine whether or not you honor God with your life.

Before you go to bed tonight, take a moment and evaluate how well you filled your mind during the day. Then take a couple minutes and refill yourself with the truth of God (read your Bible, meditate on a verse you know, give thanks for His presence, provision, promises, and power).

Every morning, plan intentionally to fill your mind with ingredients that lead to hope, peace, joy, righteousness, faith, and love.

Bake a life that pleasing to God!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

You don't have to feel joyful in order to live joyfully (Philippians 4)

PHILIPPIANS 4:4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
"Rejoice" means "to demonstrate joy." It is an active word. More than something you feel, rejoicing is something you do. 
Nat King Cole sang about rejoicing.
Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through for you
Light up your face with gladness
Hide ev'ry trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile
He was mostly right. What he didn't mention (but Paul did) is that we can rejoice IN THE LORD. Circumstances change, emotions fluctuate, relationships struggle but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Sometimes we struggle to live joyfully because we are rejoicing in the wrong thing. If your greatest joy derives from your team winning a game, you'll not always be joyful because they won't always win. If your greatest joy is gleaned from your job, you won't always be joyful because your job will sometimes be miserable. If your greatest joy is in your children, or spouse, or significant other, or a pursuit of a significant other; you'll not always be joyful because people will let you down.
Paul says to ALWAYS live joyfully because of Jesus! In every situation, remind yourself that He is present, He is powerful, and He is passionate for your growth. Then, regardless of what is happening and regardless of how you feel...
REJOICE!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Can't We All Just Get Along? (Philippians 4)

PHILIPPIANS 4:2-3
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

We don't know much about Euodia and Syntyche. We know they were both followers of Jesus. We know they worked alongside Paul. But the thing they are famous for is that they couldn't get along with each other.


Paul doesn't mention who was right or wrong, and he gives no details about their dispute. He simply begs them to AGREE.

Do you have someone in your life with whom it is difficult to agree? Here are 5 actions you can take to increase agreement with disagreeable people.

A -- Assume the best of the other person
G -- Give the benefit of the doubt to the other person
R -- Recognize the good in the other person
E -- Engage in gracious conversation with the other person
E -- Emphasize alignment instead of dissent

Remember, it takes two to disagree. You cannot control what anyone else does, but you can always control what you say, what you do, and how you do it!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

How Low Can You Go? (Sermon Leftovers From Philippians 2)

1. Relationships often get upside-down because we feel like we aren’t receiving what we expect or deserve.

2. I must replace selfish ambition (what is good for me) and vain conceit (what makes me look good) with humility (what makes others look good) and a concern for others (what is good for them).

3. The truth about who Jesus was and what Jesus did should define how we view ourselves and how we live our lives.

4. Jesus was God. He created all things, needed no things, and deserved everything.

5. Jesus chose to not hold tightly to what he deserved but to humbly lower himself so He could lift us up.

6. "Humility" means to make oneself lower. Or to place oneself "underneath", not in a demeaning manner, but in a supporting role.

7. A humble person never looks down on anyone and always finds reasons to look up to everyone.

8. A humble person recognizes that everyone around them is better than them... at something. Humility causes us to find the good in everyone.

9. Jesus' humility is amazing because we are not better than Him at anything. He didn’t “find” good in us, He “empowered” the good in us at the cross.

10. Satan's agenda is the opposite of Jesus' agenda. Jesus didn't cling to what He deserved. He let go of His expectations. He descended and lowered Himself. Satan grasps for all He can get. He holds tightly to His desires. He sought to ascend.

11. WHEN WE ASSERT ENTITLEMENT AND GRASP FOR WHAT WE DESERVE, WE ARE FOLLOWING THE AGENDA OF SATAN, NOT THE AGENDA OF JESUS.

12. Turn your life and relationships right side up by releasing your expectations and embracing the mind of Jesus

13. Let go of what you deserve. Stop keeping tabs on what everyone else owes you.

14. Sacrifice for others. Humility is a great sacrifice. Sometimes the greatest sacrifice we make is finding the good in someone who doesn’t deserve it.

15. Trust your Heavenly Father. Satan elevated Himself and God brought Him low. Jesus made Himself low and God elevated Him.

16. Life seems upside-down when we aren't getting what we think we deserve or what we expect from others. But we have a loving Father who has promised to give us what we need. He allowed His own Son to be humiliated and killed so that we could be reconciled to Him. That is the depth of His love. If He loves you that much, He can be trusted to do what is best for you when it is best for you. Trusting Him means believing that He will exalt you when the time is right, so while you wait you can assume the agenda of Jesus. You can take the mind of Christ. You can humble yourself and you can sacrifice yourself for the good of those around you. God will take care of the good for you.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

My joy cannot be linked to my football team's success or failure.

PHILIPPIANS 3:1
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord.
I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, largely because I went to bed in the wrong kind of mood. I was disappointed.

You probably know that I am a Detroit Lions football fan. We are really the most unfortunate fan base of all professional sports throughout the world. Our team is not only perpetually losers, but on rare occasions, when they have opportunities to win, something or someone always intervenes. It happened again last night. I am so disappointed.

A few highly questionable penalties were called and cost the Lions a much-needed win. Had they won, Detroit would be the first place team in their division. As a result of losing their game, the Lions are in last place this morning. I am so disappointed.

There is a part of me that would prefer to spend my day rage-scrolling through twitter, reading all the sports' pundits who agree with me for once. Everybody saw it, the Lions got robbed. I am so disappointed.

Instead of wallowing in my disappointment, I decided I needed to start my day like I normally do, so I opened my Bible to Philippians and discovered today's reading begins in chapter 3. I only had to go one verse in to discover the truth I needed to here.


FINALLY, MY BROTHERS, REJOICE IN THE LORD.

The command is not to rejoice in your successes, or your circumstances, or the people who make you feel good, or because your team was victorious. The command is to rejoice IN THE LORD.

My joy is not the result of what I have done or what is happening around me. My joy is in the fact that God loved me enough to send His Son (the Lord) to pay the penalty for my sin and purchase eternal life for me. My joy is in the fact that because of Jesus, God has adopted me and I am a child of the king. My joy is in the fact that God has promised me a place in His kingdom where all we be made new and there will be no more sadness, or death, or disease (or bad referees!).

Are you disappointed? Did someone not live up to your expectations? Did you fall short of your own standards?

The disappointments of life have nothing to do with our joy. Our joy is rooted in an event that already happened (Jesus' resurrection) and in an outcome that has been promised and is certain (our resurrection)!

Rejoice!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

CONFIDENCE IN THE CHAOS: Sermon Leftovers From Philippians 1

PHILIPPIANS 1:6
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

1. Reasonable confidence is often based on knowledge of past performance.

2. God has begun a work IN you.

3. God is changing you. He is not changing your situation or your circumstances.

4. God never promises to change our situation or circumstances. He changes us so that no matter where we find ourselves, we are empowered to handle it.

5. The work God has begun in us is GOOD work. When His work doesn't feel good at the moment we must remember that He is not finished.

6. God always finishes what He starts.

7. Confidence about the future is developed through gratitude for the past.

8. Gratitude is our way of filling our minds with God's record of success.

9. If you are struggling to be grateful, think about the people who have blessed you, the provisions you have received, and the possessions with which you have been entrusted. The more you consider, the more you'll discover.

10. Every day, tell three people one reason why you are grateful.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

More Time Means More [fill in the blank]

I'm still dragging a bit this morning as I cajole my body to join me back in the Eastern time zone. Marianne and I had a great time visiting with Liam this past weekend in Washington.

A few days before our trip, we discovered we could change our flight and arrive in Seattle 12 hours earlier than our original flight. Excitedly, we began to make plans for our extra time in the Emerald City. More time meant more Seattle.
  • More Pike Place Market
  • More Coffee
  • More Smoked Salmon
  • More Views of the Puget Sound
  • More Street Walking and Looking for Cool Shops
  • More Time Together!
In Philippians 1:21, Paul says that more time on earth meant more Jesus. I've always considered this verse to be a comforting verse, reminding us that death is not the end and is not to be feared as it is the pathway we take into eternity. As I read the familiar words this morning, the first half of the verse grabbed me.

"For me to live is Christ."

More Jesus means more time together with Him. More Jesus means more time to walk like Him. More Jesus means more time to look like Him. More Jesus means more time to enjoy what He enjoys. More Jesus means more time to go where He would go. More Jesus means more time to treat others as He would. More time means more Jesus!

None of us know how much time we have, but all of us know that we have the time right in front of us. God has given you today. Will more time mean more Jesus or more of you?